Whether vein pain is mild or severe, it’s important to get a medical opinion and, if necessary, seek vein treatment.
Vein pain is a common vascular condition that most commonly affects blood vessels in the legs. By some estimates, as many as one in three Americans over the age of 45 have some form of vein disease, though far fewer people seek out diagnosis and treatment.
If you’re not familiar with vein pain — including the many causes and risk factors that can lead to developing pain or discomfort in your legs — here’s what you should know.
What Causes Vein Pain?
Vein pain is often caused by increased pressure within the blood vessels, typically the result of malfunctioning valves that help pump blood back to the heart against the flow of gravity. When these valves break down from obesity, age, trauma, or sitting or standing for long periods, the intravenous pressure increases, which stretches or inflames the veins, causing pain.
Most cases of vein-related discomfort in the legs is caused by chronic venous insufficiency, which can result in varicose veins or cellulitis (a bacterial infection on the surface of the skin). Vein pain that appears in other parts of the body is most often caused by outside environmental conditions (especially temperature) or strained muscles.
Vein pain can present in a number of ways, including:
The sensation of heaviness in the lower extremities
Tissue hardening beneath the skin
Swelling, rashes, throbbing or cramping in the legs
Discolored skin or bruises
If you have persistent vein pain in the legs — even if the pain is minimal — you should seek medical advice regarding diagnosis and treatment. In mild cases, you may be able to manage the symptoms with compression stockings (more on this below). In severe cases, vein pain could be a sign of a serious underlying condition.
Low blood flow in the veins can develop into thrombophlebitis. This swelling in the veins caused by a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot in the legs breaks loose and travels to the lungs. These are both potentially life-threatening and can lead to pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
If you or someone you know has any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign of a life-threatening condition. Immediately seek out medical care if someone begins to experience symptoms including:
Diagnosis and Treatment
Without proper treatment, even minor vein pain can worsen. Early diagnosis is critical to alleviate discomfort and prevent venous disease from progressing. Getting a consultation with a vein physician is important if you are experiencing issues with veins close to the skin's surface (called superficial veins). Blood clots in the deep veins require medical attention and treatment, either through medication, surgery, or other interventional procedures. The different methods of managing leg vein issues include the following:
Losing weight can help reduce the strain on the veins and valves in your legs.
Exercising to improve your strength and flexibility can help improve blood flow between your legs and heart.
If you’ve been sitting for long periods of time — such as when you’re working at a desk or traveling — occasionally move your feet and legs to stimulate better blood flow.
Compression stockings are designed to reduce swelling, thereby lowering the risk of developing blood clots.
To reduce discomfort and aid with blood flow, elevate your leg and apply warm, moist compresses.
Medications and Surgical Treatments
A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories, pain killers, or blood thinners (anticoagulants) to help prevent developing clots.
In severe cases, doctors may prescribe a thrombolytic, which are medications known as “clot busters” for how they dissolve clots in the arteries and veins. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to help in cases of infection.
While vein stripping was once the primary method of treating varicose veins and other venous conditions, breakthroughs in medical techniques now allow patients to get treatment that doesn’t require local anesthetic or an overnight stay in the hospital.
Compassionate Vein Care
Center for Vein Restoration takes pride in helping patients find quick, safe, and effective relief from vein-related pain and improve their quality of life. Our team is well-versed in various advanced treatment options, ensuring that patients receive customized care. Contact us today to set up a consultation.